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Menstrual Cramps

What are Menstrual Cramps?

A menstrual cramp is a dull or throbbing pain in the lower abdomen that many women experience just before and during their menstrual periods.

For some women, menstrual cramps are merely annoying. For others, it can be severe enough to interfere with everyday activities for a few days every month.

Painful menstrual cramps is the leading cause of lost time from school and work among women in their teens and 20's. The pain usually begins several days before or just at the start of your period. Painful menstrual cramps generally subsides as menstrual bleeding tapers off.

Menstrual cramps are also called Dysmenorrhea. Dysmenorrhea refers to menstrual pain severe enough to limit normal activities or require medication

Types of Menstrual Cramps

There are two main types of menstrual cramps: primary and secondary.

Primary menstrual cramps refers to menstrual pain that occurs in otherwise healthy women. They affect most menstruating women and are not associated with specific problems with the uterus or other pelvic organs. Primary menstrual cramps usually begins within three years after a girl begins menstruating.

Secondary menstrual cramps are caused by a condition other than the menstrual cycle. Common causes are: structural abnormalities of the uterus, pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis and uterine fibroids.

Can Menstrual Cramps be Treated?

Yes. One of the most simple ways of treating menstrual cramps is to exercise. Exercise helps alleviate menstrual cramps by raising the level of beta endorphins. Beta endorphis are chemicals in the brain associated with pain relief. Beta endorphins also have a positive effect on mood and behavior.

Anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and diclofenac may help reduce the severity of menstrual cramps. For severe cramping, your doctor might recommend low-dose oral contraceptives to prevent ovulation, which may reduce the production of prostaglandins and therefore the severity of your cramps.

If painful menstrual cramps are caused by an underlying condition, it is necessary to treat the underlying condition.

Complications of Menstrual Cramps

If you have secondary menstrual cramps, complications may occur. The type and severity of the complication will depend on the underlying cause of the secondary menstrual cramps. For instance, if secondary menstrual cramps are caused by pelvic inflammatory disease can scar your fallopian tubes. The scarring of your fallopian tubes can lead to an ectopic pregnancy. If secondary menstrual cramps are caused by endometriosis, impaired fertility may occur.

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